Small Heath - Coenonympha pamphilus

Scientific Name: Coenonympha pamphilus.

English Name: Small Heath.

French Name: Le Procris or le Fadet commun.

5 Key Characters:
  • small to medium sized (forewing 14 - 17 mm long).
  • pale irregular band crossing the underside of the hind wing.
  • prominent eyespot on the underside of the forewing, near the tip, but none on the hindwing.
  • tawny orange brown (fauve) and grey brown.
  • never rests with wings open.
Lookalikes: Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus, which often rests with open wings; Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina, which is much larger; Pearly Heath Coenonympha arcania, which is brighter and more clearly marked on the underside, with eyespots on the hind wing.

Habitat: Grassland, waste ground, crop margins and woodland clearings.

Flight Period: March-April-May-June-July-August-September-October-November.

Caterpillar: Green, all year. Overwinters as a caterpillar, and can spend anywhere between 1 and 11 months as a caterpillar, depending on the season and the area.

Host Plant: Annual Meadow Grass Poa annua, Crested Dogs Tail Cynosurus cristatus.

Status: The second most widely distributed butterfly species in France and in the top 10 most abundant. Nevertheless it is a Grassland Indicator Species in strong decline. Grassland Indicator species are monitored to predict or judge the health of natural grassland habitats. It is often the most abundant and visible species of open grassland in this area.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

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